A local lobsterman saved people off a burning motor yacht in New Hampshire’s Piscataqua River as the 70-foot vessel was consumed in a sudden fire June 18.

The fire was reported just after 4 p.m. by a 911 call as the yacht Elusive was heading into Wentworth Marina in Little Harbor, according to the New Hampshire state police marine patrol. One of the three people one board saw black smoke coming from below deck, and “within minutes the boat completely filled with smoke.”

Lobsterman Tom Hadley of Hollis, N.H., told television station WMUR that he had seen smoke from the Elusive while passing by in his boat, and turned around. He saw three people standing on the swim platform at the stern of the yacht, holding plasric foam swim noodles, and two dogs.

Hadley told them the jump and jettisoned his lobster traps to make room on his deck.

"At first I hauled a lady on board and then we put the two dogs on board" Hadley told WMUR. "And then a younger man was half in, I hauled him over the side."

Hadley saw another fishing boat nearby and called them over to rescue a third man who was clinging to the hull of the burning Elusive.

State police identified the rescued Elusive captain and passengers as Arthur Watson, 67, and Diane Watson, 57, both of New Canaan, Conn., and Jarrod Tubbs, 33, of Jupiter, Florida.

They were all transported to Portsmouth Hospital, where they were treated and released, and reunited with their dogs.

“The vessel drifted out of the harbor with the outgoing tide across the state line into Maine. Efforts by several agencies to save the boat were unsuccessful” and the Elusive sank two hours later in 75 feet of water off Kittery, Maine, state police said.

The firefighting effort drew in units from all along the river according to the New Castle, N.H. Fire Department, including the Portsmouth Professional Firefighters Local 1313, Newington Fire Department, Rye Professional Firefighters Local 2029, Salisbury Fire Department and Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, and Kittery harbormaster.

State police described the Elusive as a 70-foot vessel built in 2007 by Marlow Yachts of Palmetto, Florida, a yard specializing in long-range luxury boats.

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